Knee pain is a prevalent issue that can occur due to various causes. While minor knee pain may resolve on its own with rest and self-care, there are certain situations where it is advisable to see a knee doctor. Here are some common causes of knee pain and guidelines for seeking medical attention:
Common Causes of Knee Pain
Osteoarthritis: This degenerative joint condition commonly affects older individuals and causes knee pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced range of motion.
Ligament Injuries: Injuries to the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial collateral ligament), or LCL (lateral collateral ligament) can result in knee pain, instability, and difficulty with knee movement.
Meniscus Tears: The menisci are cartilage pads in the knee joint. Tears in the meniscus can lead to knee pain, swelling, clicking or locking sensations, and limited knee mobility.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: Also known as runner’s knee, this condition involves pain and inflammation around the kneecap (patella), especially during activities that involve bending the knee.
Tendonitis: Inflammation of the tendons that attach to the knee, such as patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee) or quadriceps tendonitis, can cause knee pain, tenderness, and difficulty with activities that stress these tendons.
Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursae, small fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning around the knee joint, can result in knee pain, swelling, and limited range of motion.
When to See a Knee Doctor
While mild knee pain can often be managed with rest and self-care, you should consider seeing a knee doctor under the following circumstances:
Severe or Prolonged Pain: If your knee pain is severe, persistent, or worsens over time, it is advisable to seek medical attention. This is particularly important if the pain is interfering with your daily activities or quality of life.
Inability to Bear Weight: If you are unable to put weight on your affected leg or have difficulty walking due to knee pain, it suggests a potentially significant injury or condition that requires evaluation and treatment.
Swelling and Redness: If your knee is visibly swollen, warm to the touch, or red, it may indicate an inflammatory or infectious condition that requires medical attention.
Instability or Giving Way: If your knee feels unstable, gives way frequently, or feels like it may “buckle” during normal activities, it may suggest ligamentous or structural issues that should be evaluated by a knee specialist.
Limited Range of Motion: If you experience a significant decrease in knee range of motion, such as difficulty bending or straightening the knee fully, it may indicate an underlying problem that requires medical assessment.
History of Trauma: If you have experienced a recent injury to the knee, such as a fall, sports-related incident, or direct impact, it is advisable to have your knee evaluated by a healthcare professional, especially if it is accompanied by pain, swelling, or difficulty with knee function.
Remember, these are general guidelines, and individual cases may vary. If you are unsure about the severity or cause of your knee pain, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional or orthopaedic specialist who can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options.